Vikings’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was fired by the Vikings after a Week 14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last season. Quarterbacks coach, Kevin Stefanski, was promoted to interim offensive coordinator.
The Vikings retained Stefanski in that role over the offseason but also brought in Gary Kubiak as the assistant head coach. Kubiak is known for his zone-running scheme and play-action passing. He will help integrate the pass and run elements of the Vikings offense to provide Kirk Cousins with more favorable looks in the passing game similar to what we see from Kyle Shanahan.
Pairing the Kubiak hire and the run-heavy nature the Vikings displayed in the final three games under Kevin Stefanski has many thinking the offense is under direct orders from Mike Zimmer to be run-heavy.
We will get to the projected attempt volumes and pass split changes like we usually do in this series, but to figure out how to project this team, we must investigate the narrative above first.
DeFilippo the Deviant and Stefanski the Savior
DeFilippo’s offense started hot scoring 27 points or more in four of seven games. However, over the second seven games, the Vikings scored 20 or less in four of seven games. After a two-game skid versus the Patriots and Seahawks where the offense managed only 17 points head coach Mike Zimmer decided to shake things up.
“I felt like I don’t want this season to be wasted. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but these three (last) games to me are very, very critical and we need to play good.”
After the loss to the Patriots, the week before Zimmer was how he thought the offense could get going by reporters. He replied, “Same thing I have said all year.” Then asked if the Vikings ran enough, he answered, “No.”
During DeFilippo’s 13 games the Vikings passed 67% and ran 33%. Since taking over the Vikings in 2014, Zimmer’s teams have passed 58%, 51%, 62%, and 53%. At first glance, it seems DeFilippo’s splits are way out of whack with his head coach’s history.
What is interesting is the two highest pass-percentage years came on the lowest margin-of-victory seasons in 2014 (-1.1) and 2016 (1.3). The Vikings were at -.7 through 13 games with DeFilippo.
Further digging into the game-by-game data provides some more context.